"Vod, I don’t know how you do it.”
Cody raises an eyebrow at his brother as Rex stumbles into the foyer and collapses dramatically in the nearest chair. The blonde sinks into the plush cushions with a loud groan, bringing up a hand to scrub at his temples. He looks disheveled, the civvies he’s wearing wrinkled and rumpled more than usual.
It’s still slightly strange to see Rex, or any of his brothers, out of their standard blacks and armor. The assimilation to their new life is still a steady process and sometimes he’s reminded by how different life is now.
A welcome change, but still. Adjusting.
“Do what?” he asks rhetorically. He knows what Rex is doing here, knew to expect him beforehand, but it's still fun to tease him. Rex will always be his little brother and it’s impossible not to needle him, especially when he tends to be in their quarters as much as his own.
Rex’s head pops up to glare at him balefully and Cody muffles a laugh. He looks like a ruffled tooka, the slightly longer strands of hair nearly sticking up and dark circles under his eyes. He’s been experimenting with growing out his regular cut, always shaved so short during the war, but he can’t decide if he likes it.
Cody has already decided that he does like the longer look on himself, allowing his wavy style to take on a life of its own in curly ringlets once it was free of a GAR regulation haircut. He shaves the sides down, but allows the length on top.
Besides, Obi-Wan likes it.
And unlike the Skywalker twins, Jinn hasn’t begun trying to yank his hair out of his head on a regular basis.
“Don’t start with me,” Rex points at him without moving from his collapsed position. This is a grown man that once helped feel the Confederacy of Independent Systems, helped bring down the would-be galactic dictator and Sith Lord. Felled by two infants. “Just because you have a well-behaved baby doesn’t mean it's genetic.”
Cody hums, bundling Jinn a little closer in his arms. His son is wide awake, big blue eyes alertly watching his ba’vodu from his father’s arms. His black curls are growing longer, a lovely contrast against his dark skin and deeply colored eyes. It’ll be time for him to eat later, a bottle already prepared in their conservator and he’ll go down for an evening nap after, but for now he’s alert and taking in everything around him.
He grins at Rex, can’t help himself. “The genes definitely have something to do with it,” he says, lightly tracing a finger down Jinn’s nose just to hear the baby coo at him. His son wrapped in one of his many blankets, a soft warm weight against Cody’s chest, big blue eyes blinking wide and watching the adults' conversation. He’s a little more animated every day and dangerously close to crawling on his own.
“Face it vod. This,” gestures to Jinn, “Is Obi-Wan’s child. You should’ve known Skywalker’s would be nothing but trouble.”
Jinn is the quite possibly the most quiet, contemplative baby in the galaxy. He’s a baby, he cries if he needs something, he fusses when he wants to be held, but beyond normal infant needs, he’s the easiest child Cody has ever seen.
Obi-Wan’s influence, he’s sure.
Though his riduur says that Jinn has Cody’s calm, stoic unflappability, so maybe it’s a combination.
Rex groans again, defeated by the truth. “I love them, Codes. I do. But little gods, they are exhausting.” He flops back against the cushions, like he’s going to fall asleep right there. He’s been with the Skywalker twins all day, babysitting while Anakin is off world and Padme leading a senate delegation. Tano had left with Skywalker, otherwise she would be first in line. Rex is the next man up.
Luke and Leia are only a little younger than Jinn, though they were both full term and even a bit bigger than he is now. They are also the rowdiest, most demanding infants that Cody has ever seen. Granted, his experience is limited, but Obi-Wan, who has pulled more than a few hours in the creche, echoes his sentiments. They hate to be separated, demand to be held, and cry at the first sight of something unexpected. One wrong noise in the residence can send them into squalls for hours.
Anakin chalks it up to them being force sensitive, but Jinn is too and he doesn’t behave like that.
The last time Padme tried to bring them a senatorial meeting within her own office, they both caused such a ruckus that newly installed Chancellor Organa politely referred Skywalker to his family nursemaid, as a recommendation if they had need of her services.
Anakin still hasn’t warmed to the idea - though Obi-Wan has been quietly pushing him in that direction - and so they called Rex. He’s too much of a pushover to say no.
Cody loves them - they’re family and truly sweet most of the time - but he can’t imagine being left alone with the twins the whole day alone.
He shifts around to the couch, patting Rex on the head as he goes. “You knew what you were getting into,” he admonishes lightly. Sinks into the back of the furniture and Jinn babbles, waving his little arms in the air with his eyes still locked on Rex. Jinn is friendly with nearly everyone but he loves Rex. If his parents aren’t in the room, his ba’vodu is the one he wants to be with.
“Rascals, the both of them,” Rex laments fondly, kicking his boots off and stretching, groaning when his arms pop. He adores Luke and Leia, no matter his posturing now. Rex is probably half the reason they squall for attention, the way he spoils them. He huffs and resettles next to his brother and nephew on the couch in a familiar manner that tells Cody he’s not thinking of leaving anytime soon. It’s just as well. Obi-Wan will be back soon and they have more than enough dinner for three.
There’s almost always someone visiting their quarters, vode, Jedi, senators, the like. Their large quarters are the perfect place to host a variety of friends and considered family, though most do ask to come beforehand out of deference to the baby. Cody has spent almost his entire life surrounded by brothers, so it’s natural to be surrounded by others all the time. Obi-Wan’s life in the Temple was similar in that regard, so they tend to receive a lot of welcomed visitors.
It helps that Jinn doesn’t seem to mind, either.
“I swear Leia is already starting to levitate things,” Rex says and Cody does raise an eyebrow at that.
Rex nods. “I kept putting the key card down on the table, and it kept showing up on the mess counter.” He shakes his head. “I thought I was losing my mind for a good half day.”
Cody does laugh at that, imagining the frantic scene. “Can’t say we have that around here,” he muses, settling Jinn on his legs and bouncing him lightly. The baby smiles, big pink gums at him, with a little delighted squeal at the movement. Cody’s heart still sings at the sound, no matter how many times he hears it.
Both Obi-Wan and the crechemaster have verified that yes, Jinn is plenty force sensitive. But whereas Obi-Wan describes the Skywalker twins like balls of blazing fire in the Force, Jinn feels more like a stream of water, gentle but strong. Cody, about as force-null as the nearest boulder, can’t really understand what that means, but when he sees them together, he thinks he can imagine the difference.
“That’s because Jinn isn’t a troublemaker,” Rex responds, watching them both. His irritation is melting into a more fond look, the one he always seems to have around his nephew. “Are you, ad’ika? He isn’t trying to turn you grey before your time.”
“No, just his mother,” Cody says dryly.
“But you’re used to that,” Rex argues, just for the sake of it, trying to smother a grin and keep up his sulking. He punches Cody lightly in the shoulder. “You should be used to that by now.”
Cody rolls his eyes. “As if we could become immune to it,” he says with a snort. Obi-Wan is a calm, pragmatic Jedi, worthy of her title as the Negotiator a thousand times over, but she can be the worst magnet for trouble in the galaxy. Being off the battlefield hasn’t changed that. He’s beginning to think it’s just a part of her being. “Or are you used to managing Fives and Jesse’s combined chaos now too?”
Rex pulls a face. “Okay, point taken. You’re a smug bastard, you know that? Echo and Kix have kept them out of trouble lately, but I’m not holding my breath.”
“I wouldn’t,” Cody says, checking the chrono. “For two ARCs, they still get up to an insane amount of trouble.” He doesn’t envy Rex. Waxer and Boil have never been true troublemakers and the most he ever had to write any of the 212th up was when they took Wooley to 79’s on his first rotation of leave.
“I’m going to put something on for latemeal,” he says, standing to his feet and setting Jinn into Rex’s arms without a second thought. It’s almost time for Jinn to eat too, and if he times it right, the meat can simmer while he feeds the baby. Rex huffs for show but doesn’t protest, cuddling the baby up close to his chest so Jinn can reach out and grab for his nose, bright eyes curious.
“As long as you don’t pull out my hair ad’ika,” he grouses playfully. “Unlike those other two terrors.” Jinn babbles back at him, completely unintelligible, but Cody knows his baby, knows the sound he makes when he’s happy.
“If you shave it back, there won’t be anything for them to grab,” Cody calls back helpfully as he heads toward their mess area, pulling a fresh pack of meat out. He’s planning on an Alderaanian stew tonight, a favorite of Obi-Wan and Rex both, perfect to pair with the red wine Padme gave them last week and just the right companion for these chiller nights.
Rex either doesn’t hear him, or doesn’t bother with a response, all he can hear coming from the communal area is the soft noises of his brother and son, nonsense talking to one another. A warm pulse spreads through his chest as he cracks over the portion and doles together their dinner, a deeply satisfied feeling in his chest.
Boil might joke that Cody settled into being a house husband too easily, but he can’t deny that he enjoys taking care of his riduur and his ad. There’s a peace to this new life, one devoid of the death and blood of the battlefield. Working as a consultant for what remains of a consolidated GAR keeps him busy, and he has a feeling his plate is about to get a lot fuller soon.
The Senate is debating officially what to do with the clones, part of the reason Obi-Wan is absent tonight, and knows they’re approaching a resolution soon. The Clones Rights Bill, CRB, co-sponsored by one Padme Amidala with the help of dozens of liberated systems, is heavily favored to pass in the coming weeks. The question is what will the clones do once the bill has been ironed out into law. It will grant them citizenship and a reparation penance for service during the war, but there are still hurdles to climb. Kamino may have been their home once, but it’s not a place any brother wants to return to.
Mandalore is the next question hanging in the air, and the Republic’s assistance in the siege may have persuaded Bo-Katan Kryze to offer citizenship and space for the vode to call their own, but nothing is official yet. Obi-Wan, familiar with the in’s and out’s of the planet due to her own history, is working one-on-one with the Mandalorian delegation to reach an proposed agreement.
If the clones are granted a life on Mandalore as its own citizens, then they’ll need representation. That is an unspoken requirement, one he knows Obi-Wan is envisioning him in. If he’s honest, Cody is intrigued by the idea, but no decisions need to be made yet. They’re still weeks away from an official vote and longer still from a resolution on Mandalore. They have time.
They have all the time in the galaxy, now.
With dinner finally simmering and after readying a bottle, Cody walks back into the living room to fetch Jinn. Rex has stretched out fully, Jinn sandwiched between himself and the back of the couch. The baby is half-asleep and Rex looks about as drowsy as his nephew, carding a slow, gentle hand through the short, baby curls. They look perfectly content.
Something sweeps deep in Cody’s chest at the sight, two of his most important people, soft and sleepy together. He slips a holocam silently from his pocket, clicks an image and stows it before Rex can notice.
He’s learning there are things he wants to keep, moments he wants to remember, and holos are good for that. Jinn won’t be tiny forever, after all.
He steps beside them and smoothly tucks one strong arm under Jinn, lifting his baby into his arms with ease while Rex shifts to watch with cracked open eyes. Conditioning is still a constant in his life and his physique reflects that. It’s an easy way to clear his mind and sparring with Obi-Wan or his vode centers his soul. An unintended side effect is it makes hauling their infant around a piece of cake.
“C’dy,” Rex mumbles, watching him, the word more of a question than his brothers name. He really must be exhausted. For a moment, it looks like he’s going to get up, and there’s no need. Dinner won’t be ready for at least another half hour, he can rest. Cody shifts little Jinn into one arm, his son small enough to hold securely against his chest. The baby yawns and smacks his lips together, slowly waking up while Rex seems to be dropping off. Cody places his other hand against Rex’s sternum, sleep-warm.
“Sleep vod’ika,” he says, voice soft. The light have dimmed, the sun setting against the window and filling the space with a soft glow. “We’ll be here when you wake up.” Rex's brown eyes blink once, twice, then slip closed. Cody smiles, resolves to rouse him out of his nap when Obi-Wan returns, and hums his way back to the kitchen back to the kitchen with his brother asleep, his riduur on the way, and his son in his arms. Everyone he loves is safe, no longer sleeping in waterlogged trenches on some god-forsaken battlefield, and their biggest worry is how to manage Anakin’s two children.
He’ll take that, every time.